Must-Read Op-Eds for Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Updated
 
NO RECALL
BY ROSS DOUTHAT
NEW YORK TIMES

We are entering a political era that will feature many contests like the war over collective bargaining in Wisconsin: Grinding struggles in which sweeping legislation is passed by party-line votes and then the politicians responsible hunker down and try to survive the backlash. There will be no total victory in this era, but there will be gains and losses — and the outcome in the Walker recall is a warning to Democrats that their position may be weaker than many optimistic liberals thought.

EVOLUTION’S SWEET TOOTH
BY DANIEL E. LIEBERMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

The obesity epidemic has many dimensions, but at heart it’s a biological problem. An evolutionary perspective helps explain why two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and what to do about it. Lessons from evolutionary biology support the mayor’s plan: when it comes to limiting sugar in our food, some kinds of coercive action are not only necessary but also consistent with how we used to live. …The food industry has made a fortune because we retain Stone Age bodies that crave sugar but live in a Space Age world in which sugar is cheap and plentiful. Sip by sip and nibble by nibble, more of us gain weight because we can’t control normal, deeply rooted urges for a valuable, tasty and once limited resource. WHAT THE LOCUSTS ATE
BY THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

[F]or Europe, the Arabs, China and America, in different ways, these have been the years the locusts ate. Getting healthy again will be wrenching for all of us. If I were President Obama, I’d focus my entire campaign now on an effort to reforge a “grand bargain” with Republicans based on a near-term infrastructure stimulus tied with a Simpson-Bowles long-term fiscal rebalancing. At a minimum, it would show that Obama has a sensible plan to fix the economy — which is what people want most from the president — and many in business would surely support it. We cannot wait until January to do serious policy making again. We, and the world, need America to be a rock of stability — now.

ANNAN’S NEW SYRIA PLAN
BY DAVID IGNATIUS
WASHINGTON POST

What’s intriguing about Annan’s new approach is that it could give Russia and Iran, the two key supporters of Assad’s survival, some motivation to remove him from power, and also some leverage to protect their interests in a post-Assad Syria. … If Annan’s idea for a contact group proves to be a non-starter, there aren’t any obvious alternatives, other than a deepening civil war. Assad last week resisted the former secretary general’s de-escalation proposals, such as withdrawing Syrian troops from conflict zones and releasing political prisoners. And if progress isn’t made soon, Annan probably will have to abandon his peace effort — with all sides understanding this means a bloody war to the finish.

BARACK ON BROADWAY
BY KATHLEEN PARKER
WASHINGTON POST

[R]eality transcended metaphor Monday when crooner in chief Barack Obama hit Broadway. Joining him on stage was one of the greatest actors of our time — Bill Clinton. No longer playing the role of political antagonist, Clinton is now Dean Martin to Obama’s Frank Sinatra. …Still, it becomes increasingly difficult for the Obama campaign to insist that the president is fighting for the little guy against the evil rich when no one is so rich as the company he himself keeps. It’s also difficult to criticize one’s opponent for running a company that made its investors rich while greasing one’s own pockets with filthy lucre similarly acquired. Bumper sticker: “My billionaire’s better than your billionaire.”

SPEAK OUT, MR. PRESIDENT
BY WILLIAM YEOMANS
POLITICO

The president must be free to criticize the court and talk openly to the public about matters that may come before it. The court is unlikely to be affected directly by the president — but, as the health care law litigation demonstrates, for better or for worse, it surely is affected by the public’s view of the law. History demonstrates that a law’s unpopularity gives the court greater leeway to follow its policy preferences. Striking down an unpopular law uses less of the court’s capital and poses less of a threat to its legitimacy. Keep talking Mr. President, keep talking.

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Must-Read Op-Eds for Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Updated